Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE HARD WATER BITE & VINTAGE OUTDOOR STUFF

    Although we had a little cold snap, this past winter has been a good one here at home on Salmon River. The older I get, the worse I hate the cold! If I didn't have arthritis in all my bones maybe I could stand it a little better. But this year it was nice to have mild temperatures and very little snow to contend with. That's the kind of winter I like as of late. As I've said before, it helps animals and humans alike. We hardly have a scoot of snow and the grass is showing in the fields. Flooding this year should be minimal on the Saint John River system and that's good news all around in this part of the country! The Saint John River has been open since the first of the month and I saw a dozen geese feeding on green grass growing on the shore on the 8th of March. That's the earliest I can recall seeing geese back and feeding in Maugerville .

    It was also a great winter for ice fishing on the back coves. Grand Lake proper was a bit of a hazard for travelling on this winter but there were fishermen that did very well. At least one group of fishermen had Great Luck on a lake that shall remain nameless and were getting multiple catches of several different species. The next photo shows some of the fish they caught. The biggest burbot that was caught by these fishermen was 30 inches and weighed 8 lbs. That's a lot of good eating right there! Note the bulging bellies on the bigger burbot. Also, the landlocked salmon is very healthy looking and has a nice bright sheen to it. The fish at the bottom of the photo are whitefish.
 The next photo shows the 30 in. burbot.
    It was a nice winter to take kids out ice fishing this year because of the mild temperatures. Just make sure to bundle them up warmly and a portable or permanent shack to fish out of makes it a lot more fun. If the kids aren't comfortable and the bite is slow, they can loose interest quickly. On the other hand, if they are reasonably warm and catching a few fish, you couldn't wipe the smile off their face. Runny noses and rosie cheeks don't hurt kids at all, especially in today's world. The next photo shows a young lad with a pickerel he got at Indian Lake.
 This young fisherman also caught a nice yellow perch on the same trip.
    The tournaments were all cancelled this year because of poor ice conditions and discretion became the better part of valor. Although many folks were disappointed, safety must always be the primary consideration in conditions like we had this year. In most places the ice didn't get over 12 inches thick all winter and any place that had a bit of current many times had less than 6 inches. That's a little too thin for my liking. I pretty much fished close to home and had a few good days fishing the pond at the park with a few buddies. One visitor from Doaktown had very good fishing. Billy F. fished with his son and  a friend of his and had great luck. I've known Billy for many years now and he is a top notch guide whether fishing or hunting. I met him while fishing black salmon through mutual friends and Billy always caught fish. He knew I fished a lot of pickerel and asked if I thought he could catch any through the ice down here at Salmon River. I assured him he could if he approached it properly and he just nailed them after he got the feel of it. When fishing hard water it's best to spread your lines out and cover a broader area. This is where your tip-ups come in handy. I like to jig in one hole while keeping an eye on the tip-ups for a flag. The next photos show my set up at the park while fishing one beautiful afternoon last month.
 Another view from my furthest line. 
     I fished a few days with Georgie P. and Dag D. out of their shack at the park and had pretty good luck. I think I caught 8 pickerel all totaled and my best day was 4. I wasn't targeting yellow perch but there were lots around. They kept picking at the pickerel baits and not getting hooked because we were using larger sized hooks. A few were caught but mostly as a by product while fishing for pickerel. We had a lot of laughs at the shack this year and the fishing was pretty good, all things considered.
   The bite was much better at the start of the season. Later on, the average size of the fish shrunk quite dramatically and the bite also died off. This can be attributed to fishermen keeping fish, especially the bigger ones. There's nothing wrong with keeping a fish or two for a feed during the season but when fishermen start keeping all the bigger fish each time they go out, the numbers and the size of the fish caught goes south. You see, it's just simple math. In any given body of water there are a finite number of fish occupying that space, The more you take out, the less you have. This is even more pronounced in the winter months on smaller ponds such as Mill Pond. This next photo shows one fisherman's catch laying on the ice up on the pond. When I asked him why he kept so many nice fish he said because he wanted to have a feed. He must have been planning on eating for a few days! Fishermen with this mentality are also quick to point out they are within their legal limit. They are also the first to moan and groan about how poor the fishing is. Go figure! Here is a photo of those pickerel. The largest was around 25 inches. Fishermen must learn to become more conservation minded with even the so-called "rough" or "coarse" fish. It takes many years to grow a two foot long pickerel but the fun is over forever after it's killed.


    We have been patiently waiting for the April 15th opener and as usual we will be fishing black salmon on the Miramichi River. The minimal snow pack this year may lead to lower water conditions. This could make travelling by boat difficult at best. Personally, I like lower water at the start of the fishing season because it concentrates the fish in the deeper runs. Some of the best fishing can be had during these water conditions. We usually adapt our techniques for fishing this kind of water by either planning on a float trip so we don't have to use the motor very often or by picking a stretch that will allow for a limited amount of motoring to avoid wrecking props. The trick is to pick a stretch that holds good amounts of fish. It really helps to know the river and having previous experience fishing in low water conditions. It really isn't much fun for guides who have to weigh the safety of their clients against getting into good fishing areas. Believe me, I have had lots of experience fishing black salmon in high water while keeping an eye out for large sheets of ice that have the potential to sink your boat. I don't take any chances in these conditions. No fish in the world is worth risking life and limb over. This next photo shows me with a nice black salmon taken a few years back
 
    After the spring salmon fishing, we'll be right into the spring bear hunting. We have lots of bears in our zones including some trophy boars. Often times, there will be a big old sow in the area where these big trophy sized boars like to visit. We have seen this at many of our bait sites. Ken and I really like having an old sow on a bait because she will come into heat first and that big old boy will be sticking close to her. Two tags are available to hunters again this year and I see more and more residents hunting bear each year. Non-residents like it especially because if they take one bear and it suffers from ground shrinkage, the hunter can purchase another tag and try to take a bigger one. Here is a trail cam photo of a nice boar. from a few years ago.
 Here is another photo of a trophy bear from a few years ago on one of our baits.

 The next photo shows Ken with a nice spring bear he took a couple of years ago.
 As you can see from these photos, there are some very nice bears in our area and Ken and I will be out there laying down baits and using Ken's blended bear potion to keep them on the baits. I'll keep readers posted in the coming months on the spring salmon season and the spring bear season.

    This past month I have picked up some great vintage outdoor items during my travels around the province. I really love doing this and it has been a life long hobby of mine. Believe it or not, there are a lot of great items for the camp or man cave still coming up for sale. I collect folk art, paper advertising, prints and magazines, figurines and just about anything else with an outdoor theme. I will soon be writing a separate blog about such items and the history behind them, Watch for links coming soon. The next photo shows a nice display of a mother bear and her cubs mounted on a painted plywood back board. The display itself is done of plastic or resin and I would date this item to the Sixties.
 The next photo is a nice velvet painting of a pond and ducks in flight. This painting is done on rust or orange colored velvet and this makes it a bit rarer. This piece is well marked as being done in Mexico. This would date it to the early Seventies.
 Lastly, a photo of a nice paper weight formed as a squirrel. It has a nice patina and is surprisingly heavy for its size. It is about 3 in. long by 2 in. high. I would date this item to the Forties or early Fifties.
 

    As winter comes to a close we always get a bit of weather around St. Patrick's Day and this year was no exception. Our area got about about 10 cm. this year and Sheila's brush held true once again.

     I also had the pleasure of attending Wes Hargrove's and his grandson Dallas Urquhart's birthday party this month. It was very nice to see the whole Hargrove family together to celebrate Wesley's' 85th birthday. I hope you have many more Wes. Best wishes also to Grandson Dallas.
 

I love getting feedback on my posts so don't be shy if you have any questions or just want to chat a bit. Just give me a shout. This is Dale Bauer saying " Happy Trails to You....Until we Meet Again!"


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